Friday, 20 November 2015

When There are no Headstones

In many of our genealogy travels we have been lucky to find many of our ancestors grave sites, but what do you do when there are no headstones. We came across this with Michael and Jane Hourigan.
Back in the early 1900's money was very tight and the family may not have been able to afford to put a headstone up so that just left us with knowing and hoping that the death certificates and their obituaries were correct.

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West Kempsey Cemetery where
Jane Eliza Hourigan is buried

Toms Gulley Cemetery
where Michael Hourigan is buried

Looking for headstones is really one of the thrills of being a genealogy addict but sometimes we have to just be content to believe what the records indicate.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

In Search of Angels

This month while on a family history trip we visited several cemeteries including Port Macquarie General Cemetery as well as East and West Kempsey cemeteries.  As we walked amongst  the graves stones I couldn't help but notice the angels which stood atop of the graves.

We depict the lives of those who once lived through the use of symbols, words and ornate statues. Families of the deceased often choose the most meaningful way to honour their departed loved ones. Angels are among the most visually powerful ways to represent that their loved ones are being watched over.
Whilst walking around these cemeteries with their angels, I was reminded of how much we miss those who have left us, but that they are never alone.

Learning about the many facets of graveyard symbolism is a big task, often I need to refer to the book Stories in Stone or do a Google search, but with angels they speak for themselves.
With outstretched wings they stand and watch over our loved ones for eternity.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

A Cemetery in the Valley

Our recent cemetery visit was to Yarramalong Valley cemetery. This little out of the way cemetery is right out there in the beautiful valley of Yarramalong. It was opened in 1888, and can be used only by the descendants of those already interred in the cemetery.

A small church named St Barnabas sits at the front of the cemetery, it was built in 1885 by voluntary labor and opened in December 1885 by the then Anglican Bishop of Newcastle.

To get to the cemetery you walk down a path which made my imagination go wild when I first saw it. Flanked on either side by trees, the gate sat partially open like something was waiting for us on the other side, a real live spooky cemetery, dark clouds looming over head and a small narrow path leading to a big black gate. These are the sorts of cemeteries you see in horror movies.

Once I got my thoughts composed and we entered into the old cemetery, I found myself once again feeling like a mountain goat. Every grave was placed on a steep slope and the ground was covered in wet leaves and moss.


Walking carefully amongst all these old tombstones, I finally came across some with carvings on them, flowers were very common, but one tombstone had a pair of hands,   Hands held together in this way are said to be symbolic of the dead being accepted into heaven.  Does anyone else have any suggestions on what these hands mean?


We are yet to find an angel which is really what would be a great find in these out of the way cemeteries, but for now we are just enjoying the adventure.

Any comments about cemetery symbols are always welcome here at Tombstones and Travels.


Friday, 12 July 2013

A Cemetery on a Hill

Being a genealogist is one of the most exciting hobbies there is, where else would you get the chance to walk around old forgotten cemeteries and then come home and actually blog about what you found.  This week we visited Lisarow Cemetery  and we were astounded at the amount of broken and damaged headstones that we found. 

Lisarow Cemetery is situated on the Pacific Highway Lisarow, and is owned by the Anglican Church. 
Undisturbed for years, the land recently became the subject of contention amongst genealogists when the Local Council approved plans to widen the road. The Council has put out a Statement of Heritage Impact if anyone is interested in what is happening.  This is an issue that I will be keeping a close eye on and reporting on over the coming months.  
Having visited many cemeteries I was surprised by the steep gradient of the land where these graves are situated.  Many of the burial  plots looked very majestic in this small rural setting due to the fact that they had to be build up so they were level. 

Making our way around, we were hindered by overgrown plants and huge eucalyptus tree roots jutting out of the ground. Many of the headstones were hidden in dark shadowed bushes, barely visible, so we took great care getting to these. 
The graves out in the open were just as difficult to see, they had their forests growing within the fences. Reading those inscriptions just wasn't going to happen. I pity the genealogist who actually needs to read these headstones.  
All in all it was a great visit, and there are plenty more to come. The Central Coast has so many of these small forgotten cemeteries hidden around and we are looking forward to investigating and photographing them all.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

On the Road Again

This month we are in the process of planning a family history trip to Kempsey to do some more digging around into the Hourigan family tree.

The Kempsey family history society is one of the places we will be visiting when we arrive. It is located on the main road of Kempsey and holds a good deal of local history and family information which has been collected over the years. Fortunately they also have the archives of the Macleay Argus which is the town’s local newspaper and has been in circulation since 1885.
We will also be taking more photos of family graves, in both the Toms Gulley Cemetery and the West and East Kempsey Cemeteries.

The Toms Gulley cemetery is rather a small and out of the way place. Unfortunately we were unable to locate our ancestor as his grave was unmarked but just standing among the ruins of old rusty fences and looking at the scattered old and damaged headstones; we felt that we had paid our respects to our ancestor Michael Hourigan who is buried there.

A lesson learnt from a previous experience of grave hunting is to have a very good idea of the layout of the grave yard and the sections that your ancestors are located. Unlike Toms Gulley, most cemeteries are a lot bigger than they look from the road and once you begin searching for names on headstones, you soon realize just what a mammoth task it is to locate a family member.
In our future posts we will be sharing what we found and the photos that we have taken so hope to see you all again soon.